CBS’s 20 most exciting projects for 2017/2018 pilot season

 

The following article is based on descriptions mixed wih talents attached ONLY. None of the scripts have been read at this point. 


CBS’s needs for next season

  • More diversity at every level: in their casts with more people of colour, more women at the center, more gay/bi/transgender characters with stories of their own. Avoid the same old white man temptation they’re always falling for. That’s the best way to be relevant again and attract the millenials before old people die and no one watch the network anymore. Okay, there’s still time but still.
  • Finding the next great legal drama now The Good Wife is gone.
  • Cancelling Code Black, which is definitely not working, and maybe giving the medical genre some rest for now.
  • Stop messing around with their comedies. They should treat reliable players (2 Broke Girls, Mom) a bit better.
  • Trying to repopulate saturdays where there is still a portion of (old) viewers available.

CBS is having kind of a tough year after an horrible development season -especially in the comedy department- terrible reviews for most of their new shows and not so smart a schedule. Ratings are going down slowly and it’s not gonna stop. They need to react now before it’s too late. They need to rejuvenate their dramas by bringing some diversity; in other words: they need to stop playing it safe and embrace modernity.

Even though MacGyver is doing okay on friday, even though Bull proved very compatible with the NCIS audience, those shows don’t look that promising from a longtime perspective. At the same time, older shows like NCIS & NCIS: New Orleans are aging; Criminal Minds clearly can’t lose any more cast members and needs to move. Newer entry Scorpion is already doing worrying numbers after only 3 years. Elementary can be considered as dead now (and has been dead walking for a long time). Madam Secretary does a satisfying job on a tough night but never got the same critical reception as The Good Wife and won’t be saved when it’s gonna get tougher. Pure Genius is dead. Code Black is almost dead with a desperate reboot that didn’t change a thing to its ratings. As for the comedies, The Odd Couple should’t have been renewed by the look of its recent numbers; The Great Indoors is a flop; Kevin Can Wait is already loosing steam but manages to stay at an okay level; Man with a plan is very lead-in dependent and disappoints.

Things are looking brighter for NCIS: Los Angeles, which got a nice push by moving to sunday night; Hawaii Five-O is having a good season for reasons unknown and shouldn’t go this year as previously guessed; Blue Bloods is still a beast on fridays; The Big Bang Theory is still going strong; Mom is doing okay given the situation, as well as 2 Broke Girls and Life In Pieces, which surprises a bit by not doing that bad. Midseason shows don’t look good, especially Training Day which will probably take the Rush Hour route. Doubt has a better chance but will probably be impacted by its weakened lead-in. Ransom is dumped on saturday, officially to see if there’s still an audience on this night for low-budget fare. Pretty interesting move. The most promising show seems to be sitcom Superior Donuts, which should be given the best chance with the post-TBBT slot.

DRAMAS

 

BLACK BOOK (CBS Television Studios)

What? about a Chicago detective with amnesia from a near-fatal gunshot who learns he is a murder suspect, but realizes things may not be what they seem when he finds a mysterious black book that contains the secrets of the city.

Why? Doesn’t look like your typical CBS cop show. So that’s a good thing. Is the concept strong enough? It will depend on what kind of “secrets” they are talking about and how much time this part of the show will be dealt with. Since the title is Black Book, I guess it won’t be this kind of procedurals which uses their serialized elements only twice a year.

 

DR DEATH / KILLER INSTINCT (CBS Television Studios) Picked-up

What? a former CIA operative (Alan Cumming) who has since built a normal life as a gifted professor and writer is pulled back into his old life when the NYPD needs his help to stop a serial killer on the loose…

Why? I want to believe Alan Cumming, who’s a great actor as he proved it weekly on The Good Wife, wouldn’t sign for a very generic cop show. So let’s imagine there’s more to it than what the pitch suggests. It will probably be a little bit funny or they really don’t know what they’re doing. You don’t choose Alan Cumming for something too serious, right?

 

FIREWALL (Warner Bros. Television)

What? about a charming but ruthless San Francisco billionaire who, in the wake of personal tragedy, decides to use his wealth for good, putting together a team of various experts to exact justice on criminals who’ve slipped through the cracks of the legal system…

Why? “charming but ruthless”, ugh. Haven’t we already have those a million times before? Firewall is coming from Bruno Heller, who created The Mentalist and Gotham. And Rome too. It’s not the kind of show I’d watched, and I wished the concept was a little different (why not a woman billionaire to make a change?) but it’s in his and CBS comfort zone and they need new shows like this. So it’s a yes.

 

MAGNOLIA SPRINGS (CBS Television Studios)

What? the Sheriff of Magnolia Springs discovers that this progressive and idyllic town in the new American South is a hotbed of criminal activity, and he enlists the help of his teenage son to investigate the town’s dark secrets and quirky crimes…

Why? Apart from the fact that I love this poetic title, what is exciting here is the fact that it’s a police procedural wrapped around a family drama, one which could be soapy “dark secrets” and fun “quirky crimes” and that’s everything CBS shows are not usually and should be sometimes. It looks a bit like David E. Kelley’s Picket Fences, which was great and on CBS too.

 

MRS V. MR (CBS Television Studios)

What? a prominent, larger-than-life L.A. defense attorney and the chief prosecutor for the DA’s office are constantly at odds in the courtroom, but are a happily married couple who have to leave their rivalries at the door when it comes to raising their three willful kids…

Why? Mr & Mrs Smith legal edition? It seems like an effective concept, though not particularly original. David Zucker (The Good Wife, Numb3rs) & Ridley Scott are producing. Find the perfect couple of actors and try this thing already!

 

REBEL LAW (CBS Television Studios)

What? an openly gay attorney returns home to Mississippi to join his family’s multi-generational law practice where they work through their personal and political differences both inside and outside the courtroom…

Why? Lisa Kudrow & Dan Bucantinsky are producing this legal drama, meaning it could be funnier than most of the very serious and generic CBS dramas we’re fed up with. Plus, we’re still waiting for a show on the big 4 where the main character is gay. Not that it would or should make such a change on the writing of the show itself but visibility is important.

 

STILL AT LARGE (ABC Studios)

What? after evading the largest manhunt in U.S. history and becoming infamous for a murder he didn’t commit, a man is recruited by the U.S. Marshals to track other fugitives, where he’s paired with a female partner who questions whether he really is innocent…

Why? There was a similar show a few years ago on FOX called Breakout Kings. It didn’t last long but it was okay. There’s probably something successful to do with this concept and CBS is the perfect place for it. A mix between Castle for the dynamics at the center and Scorpion for the action. If there’s a real suspense about the innocence of the male protagonist, it’s a plus.

 

THE 313 (CBS Television Studios)

What? when a sex scandal brings down the current administration, a 29-year-old female City Council President suddenly becomes the Mayor of Detroit and has to contend with all the staggering obstacles the job brings…

Why? Oh, CBS wants their own version of Designated Survivor at a smaller scale since we’re “just” talking about a Mayor, not the President of the United States. They have already chosen their actress. It will be Tika Sumpter. She played Michelle Obama in the Southside with you picture film. Don’t know about her talent but she’s black, she’s gorgeous and she doesn’t look like any of the heroines of CBS from the past decade. I’m in and they’d better be too. Changing the title seems inevitable.

 

TRIAL BY FIRE (CBS Television Studios)

What? After the deaths of their husbands in a suspicious plane crash, three women take over one of the most powerful legal firm of Manhattan and fight to save the practice while solving the mystery behind their husbands’ untimely deaths…

Why? Among the many legal shows CBS develops, this one is appealing to me for one reason mainly: three women at the center of the show, it’s not that common on this network. Casting will be the key, as well as the personalities of these heroines. It would work better as a dramedy, but I don’t think that’s what we’ll get.

 

UNDER SUSPICION (Universal Television)

What? about a justice-seeking investigative journalism team that produces an award-winning true-crime series that investigates unsolved major crimes through the eyes of those who are closest to the victims — and who also are the prime suspects.

Why? It’s hard to find new ideas in the procedural crime area but this one, adapted from Mary Higgins Clark, could be a modern and interesting take for the genre with journalists investigating instead of detectives. That may not change the formula that much but if they use “the TV show within the TV show” part of it wisely, I feel like it could be a winner. Don’t be shy, CBS.

 

UNTITLED ANNIE WEISMAN PROJECT (Universal Television)

What? about two sisters on opposite sides of the political spectrum who come together to save their father’s law firm when scandal puts him behind bars…

Why? It’s not the pitch that attracts me the most in this project but the magical name attached to it as a producer : Jason Katims. Mr Friday Night Lights / Parenthood. The family element and the political element of this probably otherwise classical legal drama are reassuring.

 

CBS also develops S.W.A.T., a reboot of the 70s series; so many generic shows that I could throw up; several Scorpion clones like Stingray; other numerous legal dramas; and a limited series which chronicles the events in 1974 when Patty Hearst was abducted from her Berkeley, California apartment by a terrorist group.

 

COMEDIES

99 PROBLEMS (CBS Television Studios)

What? about three very different couples from different backgrounds who all have a child in the same first-grade class and are exposed to the same inciting problem each week – which affects them in different ways…

Why? One of the few comedy projects at CBS with a real concept. That almost makes it an automatic yes, quite frankly. Plus, it’s coming from Greg Garcia. He did the very bad The Millers, but also the very good Raising Hope. So everything’s possible. It’s an hybrid comedy, like How I Met Your Mother was, between the multicamera format and the single-camera. Intriguing.

 

HANNAH ROYCE’S QUESTIONNABLE CHOICES (Sony Pictures Television)

What? about a woman who has made some interesting choices throughout her life – namely, having three different kids with three different men – but all have led her to having a very unique, loving, blended family…

Why? NBC had a similar project 2 years ago with Monica Potter (Parenthood) starring. It was pushed and ended up cancelled but I still think there’s something modern here that could make a great show with the right lead actress. Not sure CBS is the right fit though, especially since it’s a single-camera. They only have Life In Pieces in the genre, and it can’t be labelled as a huge success…

 

ME, MYSELF & I (Warner Bros. Television)  Picked-up

What? examines one man’s life over a 50-year span, somewhat in the vein of movie Boyhood

Why? Of course, they had me at Boyhood. Which is funny because it’s pretty clear they won’t be able to live up to the hype, even if the show is good. Anyway, we don’t know much about the project and I don’t think it fits with CBS line-up at this point but hey, their other comedy projects are terrible so…

 

MY FELLOW AMERICANS (CBS Television Studios)

What? Set in the office a Republican Governor, where a young Democratic staffer is hired to work on his team…

Why? Years after Spin City, it wouldn’t be crazy to offer another political sitcom. And it may be the perfect time to do so. This one is written by a duo of young writers Diallo Riddle & Bashir Salahuddin, who worked for Jimmy Fallon late night show and created a pilot for HBO that wasn’t picked up to series after all. I feel like they really have something to say. Let them do it.

 

NO NEW FRIENDS (Universal Television)

What? A group of friends ar various stages in their lives, realize that now is the time they need eacher other the most…

Why? This is a very basic pitch for a sitcom about a group of friends. What’s interesting here is that it’s written by Robert Padnick, who worked on The Office and now FX’s weird comedy Man Seeking Woman. Maybe he can make something that’s different from Friends, How I Met Your Mother

 

RICH FOLKS (CBS Television Studios)

What? about a middle-class family that rents the guesthouse of a needy rich couple…

Why? I agree with you: it’s a very simple and slim concept. But sometimes in the comedy department -often in fact- simple is good. So let’s keep it simple CBS and just agree to order a pilot. We’ll see if there’s a strong show in there. The battle of the classes is always a good start for a comedy.

 

SHELDON (Warner Bros. Television)

What? prequel series to “The Big Bang Theory” which would follow the child prodigy Sheldon character, played by Jim Parsons as an adult, at age 12

Why? It’s described as in the same vein as Malcolm in the Middle. And it will get picked-up whether it’s good or not. CBS needs to bank on The Big Bang Theory before it’s too late. I’m not convinced it’s the best idea they could have come up with but it’s the series that could finally help them enter the world of the single-camera comedies. There’s now a stong pressure to find the right leading kid.

 

THE FAMILIES MAN (Warner Bros. Television)

What? A mixed-race lawyer juggles his two families: his white wife and kids in Beverly Hills and a black ex-wife and son in Baldwin Hills…

Why? CBS is constantly criticized for their lack of diversity in their shows. Rightfully. This comedy project is their chance to prove they can be black and white too. The concept is not terribly exciting, but it’s produced by Simon Helberg (Howard in The Big Bang Theory) and looks more modern than the family sitcoms they have on the air right now.

 

UNTITLED MARC LAWRENCE PROJECT (CBS Television Studios)

What? an extremely non-confrontational single mom is promoted to Dean of Students at the high school where she teaches and must contend with overly involved parents, demanding administrators and a challenging student body – which includes her two teenagers…

Why? A comedy which takes place in a school, that’s weirdly rare. But the most interesting thing here is that it’s produced by The Good Wife creators Michelle & Robert King. And they know how to be funny. Their humor is way different from, let’s say, 2 Broke Girls‘. But why not? We needs the Kings back into our lives.

 

What projects are you the most interested in among these? Take your picks!

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9 comments

  1. Ilsa says:

    Is Firewall the show that was being called by the media, ” modern Robin Hood tale”, of a arquitect that had a dark past and then with a team of people would steal the people that didn`t paid for their crimes, at least was something like this, is this pilot? or Firewall is a total different show of the one i described that has a very identical storyline?if this a case of 2 pilots, why on earth do they decide to do pilots with almost the same storyline?
    Also, even tho Stingray ans Italian job remake are different shows and have diffrent casts, they both are very similar on “ex cons” type of character.

    Have to say , Magnolia springs, Trial by fire and Mrs.vsMR. caught my attention.

    • Lulla says:

      Not the same shows. Networks tend to order different versions of a similar idea.
      The other one, that I didn’t select, is called A Burglar’s Guide of the City. It’s produced by Alex Kurtzman & Justin Lin.

  2. Zach says:

    Who wrote The Families Man? Any other projects that are unlisted, and if so what auspices are attatched? Once again, thanks in advance!

    • Lulla says:

      The Families Man is from Jonas Oppenheimer, Simon Helberg produces.
      Trial By Fire is Allison Moore.
      My Fellow Americans.
      No New Friends, from Padnick, Jamie Tarses producing.
      I think that’s all.

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